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Chris Sutton’s Celtic transfer warning as he fears next departure

Chris Sutton has sounded the alarm bell over Celtic’s transfer dealings.

So far the hoops have lost a winger, a midfielder and a defender. Maik Nawrocki looks a like for like replacement for Carl Starfelt but there are no successors yet for Jota and Aaron Mooy although Odin Thiago Holm shows promise in midfield.

Gustaf Lagerbielke is on his way to bolster the Celtic defence but speculation about Reo Hatate’s future has increased over the last week.

Like Starfelt, Hatate was on the bench for the SPFL opener at home to Ross County last Saturday, in midweek Brendan Rodgers was fairly blunt when he said that no-one had a contract that meant that they had to play.

Celtic aren’t short of midfield options but until last Saturday most fans would have started with Callum McGregor and Hatate plus AN Other as their midfield trio.

Since the Ross County match there has been even more speculation surrounding the former Kawasaki midfielder which is likely to continue until the end of the month.

Up until he was injured in March there was a good case for Hatate being the most influential player at Celtic (Scotland) with a masterclass handed out in the Viaplay Cup Final alongside McGregor and Mooy.

Giving his take on Hatate, Sutton told the Daily Record:

I still can’t see Turnbull or O’Riley being a better option than a fully-firing Hatate and that’s where it becomes unclear.

It needs to be resolved. Either Hatate snaps out of what is holding him back and starts producing for Rodgers or he leaves and the manager gets to add someone who is going to be up to the levels he is seeking.

Hopefully for Celtic it’s the former because big players are departing. I said at the end of last season that there were six players they had to try to keep for the Champions League. One was Jota. Gone. One was Carl Starfelt. Gone. One was Hatate.

I have no doubt that Rodgers has a list of top players waiting to arrive because, with the greatest of respect, although signings have been made, I’m not seeing guaranteed make-the-team-better-immediately arrivals amongst that first batch, even if some have shown nice glimpses. Maik Nawrocki looked decent against Ross County, Odin Thiago Holm is catching the eye and Yang Hyun-Jun looks direct and with potential.

It feels to me as if Celtic are going to have to almost patch their way through August until they get their squad filled at the close of the transfer window. Cameron Carter-Vickers and Anthony Ralston are feeling their way back from injuries and now Oh Hyeon-gyu is out for six weeks.

Frankly, right now, Celtic are not as strong as they were at the end of last season. It’ll be a case of getting the job done and they at least have the luxury of easing their way into the season without the stress of Euro qualifiers.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Kyogo Furuhashi and Callum McGregor are the other players that Sutton named as vital to making progress.

Last summer no-one was sold by Celtic which perhaps created a build up of players ready to move on.

Virgil van Dijk, Victor Wanyama, Jeremy Frimpong, Josip Juranovic and Giorgos Giakoumakis stayed a maximum of two seasons at Celtic before moving on.

If Hatate wants to leave, and there is absolutely no evidence that he does, it would leave a big gap in the Celtic midfield. Having five options for three places is far better than four bolstered by projects like Holm and Kwon Hyeok-kyu.

Rodgers had to manage some difficult departures during his first stint at Celtic and was in a similar position at Leicester where there were players looking for lucrative moves elsewhere.

Tomorrow’s team news from Aberdeen will be eagerly devoured by supporters, as the end of the transfer window draws closer and closer.

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